I remember recently wondering why the fridge is not cold but the freezer is. Realistically, you expect that if the refrigerator is not working, so should the freezer, but we now have a perturbing irony.
Your fridge is not cold while your freezer is because of an incorrect temperature setting, fridge overstocking or understocking, lack of clearance, unlevelled installation, leaky door, filthy condenser coils, stuck damper control, or component failure.
Some components that could fail include the defrost system components (defrost heater, timer, thermostat, or control board), thermistor, evaporator fan motor, temperature control board, and main control board.
I’ll walk you through these refrigerator’s cooling issues and how to fix them. We’ll even look at specific brands like GE and LG and the side-by-side fridge, which often suffer from this issue.
Let’s dive in!
In a hurry? Check out the troubleshooting guide below for quick tips on fixing your warm fridge.
Quick Troubleshooting Guide to Why the Fridge Is Not Cold But the Freezer Is
|Likely Reason||Quick Fix|
|1.||Incorrect Temperature Setting||Set the fridge at 320F – 400F for effective cooling|
|2.||Fridge Overstocking or Understocking||Load the fridge three-quarter full|
|3.||Lack of Clearance||Leave a clearance of at least 0.5 inches sideways and at least 1 inch at the back|
|4.||Unlevelled Installation||Adjust the fridge’s feet or install shims to level up the fridge|
|5.||Leaky Door||Ensure you shut the fridge door all the way, remove any obstruction and replace a defective gasket|
|6.||Filthy Condenser Coils||Clean the condenser coils according to the manual|
|7.||Stuck Damper Control||Try to unstick the damper control manually, and if unsuccessful, call a pro|
|8.||Component Failure||Check the defrost system, thermistor, evaporator fan motor, temperature control board, and main control board for faults and replace what’s faulty|
Why Is My Refrigerator Not Getting Cold But My Freezer Works?
So, you’ve just realized that your refrigerator doesn’t cool and is warm. But once you check the freezer, it’s working just fine. That means the whole unit is not failing.
In most cases, the refrigerator becomes warm while the freezer is cold due to one of these eight reasons:
1. Incorrect Temperature Setting
Refrigerators cool best at 320F – 400F, while freezers freeze best below 00F. If your freezer is working fine, its temperature is all right. However, if the fridge is warm, it could be that its temperature is slightly higher.
Something could have rubbed against the temperature controls to cause temperature maladjustment. And so, you should check that.
Check the refrigerator’s temperature controls to ensure they are set at 320F – 400F. If not, then adjust them accordingly.
2. Fridge Overstocking or Understocking
It’s generally advisable not to overstock or understock the fridge. So, what does that mean? It means not loading the refrigerator more than ¾ full and shouldn’t be less than ½ full.
In the case of an overload, the excess food blocks the air vents preventing cold air from properly circulating and cooling the compartment.
How about an underload? Well, it doesn’t help with the cooling regulation issues because it compels the fridge to work extra harder to cool the items.
Reduce the food load if your refrigerator is overstuffed (more than ¾ full) and increase it if it’s understocked (less than ½ full). Preferably, stock the refrigerator ¾ full for optimal cold air circulation and cooling.
3. Insufficient Clearance
Proper air circulation is not just necessary inside the fridge but outside too. Air should freely move around the fridge’s exterior to promote effective cooling.
That, however, may not happen if the fridge is too close to the walls, sometimes touching the wall.
Check your manual to see how much clearance the fridge needs. In most cases, however, it needs at least ½ inch clearance on its sides and at least 1 inch on its back.
4. Unlevelled Installation
Your fridge must be lying on a level surface. If not, the door might fail to close correctly, causing cold air to escape the fridge.
And as cold air escapes, warm air enters. So, check that, as it could be why you have a warm fridge.
Try adjusting the refrigerator’s feet to ensure that the unit is leveled. You can even install shims to keep the appliance uniform and steady. If you can’t adjust the legs, see how to do it in your fridge manual.
5. Leaky Door
If the fridge door doesn’t close all the way, cold air will escape, and warm air will enter. Once that’s the case, the fridge will become warm, thus unable to cool your food.
Other than an unlevelled installation (discussed above), other potential causes of a leaky fridge door are:
- Failing to shut the fridge door firmly
- Dirty or damaged door gasket/seal, which prevents the door from closing tight
- Obstructions such as extended food containers, which prevent the door from shutting tight
First, ensure your fridge is well-leveled. Remove anything obstructing the door from closing, including cleaning the door seal to remove the dirt. But if the door seal is old, torn, or loose, replace it.
6. Filthy Condenser Coils
The work of the condenser coils is to cool your fridge. However, they cannot do that when caked with dust, grease, pet dander, and other filth. That explains why fridge manufacturers recommend cleansing them every 2 – 3 months.
Overall, the condenser coils will likely be filthy faster if the surroundings are dusty or greasy.
Check out your fridge manual on how to clean the condenser coils because the process slightly varies between brands, and do it. However, you must first unplug the fridge and remove the bottom grille to access the condenser coils.
Once you do, you can vacuum or brush off (using a refrigerator coil cleaning brush) the condenser coils or use any other routine that the manufacturer recommends. Remember to do this routinely, every 2-3 months, to prevent the fridge problem.
7. Stuck Damper Control
The other thing that could go wrong is the damper control. This door-like component opens and closes to allow cold air in. If it’s stuck, it’s unable to do that, which means cold air won’t get into the fridge.
Inspect the damper control to see if it’s stuck. If it is, try to move it and position it properly manually. However, call an expert if you cannot unstick it, and if it’s broken, replace it.
8. Component Failure
The last consideration when your refrigerator won’t cool is a failed component or unit, and that brings us to the following:
a) Defrost System Component
The problem with a nonworking defrost system is that it leads to frosting over the evaporator coils. Once the evaporator coils frost over, they restrict cold airflow above them, interfering with cooling.
Some of the defrost components that could malfunction include the following:
- Defrost heater – The defrost heater’s job is to melt away the accumulating ice. If it’s faulty, it won’t do that. So the evaporator coils will ice over, and you can tell a bad defrost heater if it lacks continuity.
- Defrost timer – A defective defrost timer fails to activate the defrost heater, and so the defrost heater doesn’t melt the accumulating frost. A bad defrost timer won’t advance the defrost cycle.
- Defrost thermostat – Faulty defrost thermostat shuts off the power supply to the defrost heater preventing the defrost heater from melting the accumulating ice. You can identify a faulty thermostat if the defrost heater doesn’t turn on.
- Defrost control board – The defrost control board runs the defrost cycle. If it’s faulty, frost will continue accumulating above the evaporator coils.
The thermistor monitors the fridge’s temperature and passes the information to the control board. The control board then processes it and directs the fans and compressor to run and cool the refrigerator. (Ambien)
That, however, doesn’t happen when the thermistor fails. A multimeter can generally determine a defective thermistor if it lacks continuity.
c) Evaporator Fan Motor
The evaporator fan motor directs cold air above the evaporator coils and circles it inside the freezer and fridge. If it’s faulty, cold air may fail to circulate in the refrigerator or freezer but often the former.
You can tell a defective evaporator fan if the blade won’t move freely by hand or if its motor shows no continuity when running the multimeter test.
d) Temperature Control Board
A bad temperature control board fails to relay sufficient power to the fan motor and compressor, preventing them from running. And if they don’t run, the fridge won’t cool.
e) Main Control Board
If none of the other fridge components is faulty, it could be the main control board. Though it’s rarely the problem, a bad main control board fails the entire cooling unit and sometimes even the freezing unit.
Consider replacing any of the above fridge components if they are faulty. However, consider an expert’s help as it’s often hard to diagnose most of them for fault and replace them.
GE Fridge Not Cooling But Freezer Works
If your GE fridge won’t cool, but the freezer is working fine, it’s most likely due to one of these reasons:
- Understocked or overstocked refrigerator
- The condenser coils are dirty
- Wrong fridge temperature setting (higher than 400F)
- Stuck or damaged damper control
- Door leakage, perhaps due to unleveled installation or dirty or defective door seal
- Defrost failure (one of the defrost unit components is faulty)
- Defective components such as the thermostat, evaporator fan motor, thermistor, temperature control board, or main control board
LG Fridge Not Cooling But Freezer Works
In most cases, you can have a non-cooling LG fridge but a cold freezer due to these reasons:
- Excessively loading or understocking the fridge
- Unlevelled installation, which leads to air leakage through the door
- Dirty condenser coils
- Incorrect temperature setting, mostly above 400F
- Failed defrost system, which causes the evaporator coils to frost over
- Stuck damper control
- Failed thermistor, evaporator fan motor, thermostat, temperature control board, or main control board
Side by Side Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is Fine
When it comes to a non-cooling side-by-side refrigerator but a proper working freezer, the issue is mainly one of these:
- Wrong refrigerator temperature setting (mostly above 400F)
- Poor food stocking (either an overstocking or understocking)
- Insufficient clearance around the fridge, mainly sideways and on the back
- Dirty condenser coils
- Stuck damper control
- Failing defrost system
- Failing temperature control board, thermostat
- Leaky fridge door
- Unlevelled unit
In summary, how do you fix a warm fridge and cold freezer?
Generally, fixing a non-cooling fridge when the freezer is okay takes these steps.
Step 1 – Ensure the fridge temperature setting is at 320F – 400F
Step 2 – Ensure the fridge is only ¾ full, not overstocked or understocked
Step 3 – Maintain a clearance of at least 1 inch at the back of the refrigerator and at least 0.5 inches sideways
Step 4 – Adjust the fridges feet to keep the fridge leveled if that’s not the case
Step 5 – Ensure the fridge door closes properly and replace the door seal if it’s defective
Step 6 – Clean the condenser coils, especially if it has been over three months
Step 7 – Try to unstick the damper control if it looks stuck
Step 8 – Check (with a pro’s help) the defrost unit, temperature control board, thermistor, thermostat, evaporator fan motor, and main control board for faults and replace what’s faulty
Generally, one discussed reason is why the fridge is not cold but the freezer is. Remember, it could be a wrong fridge temperature setting, overstocking or understocking, insufficient clearance around the refrigerator, non-uniform installation, door leakage, dirty condenser coils, stuck damper control, or failed components.
And while mentioning a failed component, you shouldn’t go past the defrost system, thermostat, temperature control board, thermistor, evaporator fan motor, and main control.